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Deerhoof - Green Cosmos

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Artist: Deerhoof

Album: Green Cosmos

Label: Menlo Park

Review date: Jun. 28, 2005

Who else but Deerhoof would sing about such disparate topics as kittens, the color of the universe, and San Francisco’s hilly terrain? The Bay’s favorite experimental-pop savants return with Green Cosmos, a frustratingly short, engagingly erratic EP that will probably delight fans and annoy neighbors.

Closer to the anarchic glee of Reveille than the precision spazz of Milk Man, Green Cosmos nevertheless defies easy categorization. Orchestral sounding synths, and groovy basslines give the new disc a measure of sophistication, but the band remains as unpredictable as a grade-schooler on a sugar high.

Opener “Come See the Duck,” is classic Deerhoof, with elemental drumming bolstered by punky guitar and bassist/vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki’s confounding exhortation to observe waterfowl. Although she mostly sings in her native Japanese, the EP provides handy translations. This is especially helpful on the title track, which compares the cosmos to a lush forest - incidentally, the perfect place for a slumber party. The song may or may not be inspired by a recent scientific announcement that the reduction of the galactic color spectrum results in a color “lighter than turquoise, almost like mint chocolate chip.” Either way, the tune’s zesty percussion and exotic keyboard work is delightful, as are the blasts of guitar that spin and tumble like a damaged gear shaft.

“Malaluma” is the most adventuresome composition on the EP. John Dieterich’s chiming guitar arpeggio soon descends into a chromatic motif that plays like an indie-rock Schoenberg. The epic “Spiral Golden Town” is a paean to SF, which refers to the city as “California’s #1 music town,” and “the town of sadness,” in addition to testifying to its “bumpy, rolling hills.” According to the translation, that is.

Let’s not forget about that young feline, which makes an appearance on the sprightly, gentle “Koneko Kitten.” “Kitten is tiny, Kitten is growing,” Satomi sings over a bed of gentle guitars. “Meow meow meow / meow meow meow / meow meow.”

While Green Cosmos isn’t exactly the follow-up some may have envisioned, Deerhoof are a band that thrives on defying expectations. Die-hards fans will probably find the disc too short. They’ll just have to play it twice in a row.

By Casey Rae-Hunter

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Deerhoof vs. Evil

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Find out more about Menlo Park

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